March 2013



Long-eared Owl - Portland Bill, 31st March 2013 © Joe Stockwell This is finally Portland Birding!

...chanced upon this afternoon at its daytime roost; it seems highly likely that this and all the other sporadic sightings in the last couple of months refer to the same individual.

    31st March

The middle of the island was the place to be today, with the White-spotted Bluethroat remaining - although becoming increasing elusive - at Suckthumb Quarry and decent totals of at least 17 White Wagtails, 16 Black Redstarts, 2 Continental Stonechats and 2 Ring Ouzels coming from the Reap Lane/Barleycrates Lane/Suckthumb/Windmills area; the best of the oddities elsewhere were a/the Long-eared Owl, 2 Firecrests and a Black Redstart at the Bill. With precious little change in the weather commoner migrants were becoming increasingly hard to come by: Song Thrushes and Robins were still relatively numerous, 20 Redwings lingered on at Reap Lane, but the likes of Wheatear and Chiffchaffs were reduced to the low dozens and most other expected migrants barely made double figures. Portland Harbour still held 8 Slavonian Grebes and 3 Black-necked Grebes, whilst odds and ends through on the sea at the Bill included 2 Red-throated Divers and singles of Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Common Tern.



White-spotted Bluethroat - Suckthumb Quarry, 30th March 2013 © Pete Saunders

...after the initial discovery (the photo above) it showed well for all-comers; thanks to Brett Spencer Brett's Goosey Ganderings for another nice image:


...and from us the inevitable little video clips:



   Also from today, the Brambling at Southwell (© Pete Saunders):


...and photos of a couple of the ground-feeding warblers - a Blackcap at the Bill and a Chiffchaff at Suckthumb Quarry - that have been such a feature of the current chilly spell when it's looked like some newly arrived migrants have been finding it a real struggle to get by (© Martin Cade):



  30th March

Despite it remaining to all intents and purposes pretty quiet for new migrants there was a decent tally to be garnered around the island today, of which the highlight was the spring's third White-spotted Bluethroat that showed up on the edge of Suckthumb Quarry. The centre of the island came up with the best of the quality, notably at least 13 Black Redstarts, 10 White Wagtails, 5 Ring Ouzels and a Woodcock, whilst elsewhere there was a fleeting Long-eared Owl at dusk, 7 White Wagtails and singles of Water Rail, Golden Plover, Black Redstart and Ring Ouzel at the Bill and singles of Barn Owl and Brambling at Southwell. Sample counts of commoner migrants included 50 each of Song Thrush, Blackbird and Chiffchaff, 40 Wheatears, 10 Blackcaps and 4 Goldcrests on the ground in the Bill area and 56 Wood Pigeons arriving in off the sea there, 25 Redwings at Reap Lane and 25 Chiffchaffs at Suckthumb Quarry. Seawatching at the Bill produced 55 Common Scoter, 10 Red-throated Divers, 9 Sandwich Terns and a Great Crested Grebe, whilst a Common Tern passed through at Portland Harbour where 4 Slavonian Grebes were still in residence.



   Ring Ouzels - Suckthumb Quarry, 29th March 2013 © Joe Stockwell This is finally Portland Birding!

    29th March

Not the most exciting start to the holiday weekend: with the easterly wind having freshened conspicuously it was feeling rather penetratingly cold and, maybe not surprisingly, new migrants were in disappointingly short supply. Ring Ouzels continued to entertain, with 4 showy individuals at Suckthumb Quarry being particularly popular, but scarcer migrants were otherwise limited to a scatter of White Wagtails, including at least 5 at the Bill, 2 Black Redstarts at Reap Lane and a Woodcock and another Black Redstart at Penn's Weare. The sea got a lot of attention, with the Bill coming up with 90 Common Scoter, 10 Red-throated Divers, 3 Shelducks, a Manx Shearwater and an Arctic Skua.





   White-spotted Bluethroat and Sanderling - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 28th March 2013 © Martin Cade (Bluethroat) and Pete Saunders (Sanderling)

    28th March

A frosty dawn gave way to a day that seemed, in comparison with most in the last week, positively balmy in clearish skies and a light easterly breeze. Given the prevailing conditions it perhaps wasn't too much of a surprise that the day's highlight turned out to be another White-spotted Bluethroat that was netted in the Crown Estate Field at the Bill, whilst the decent little back-up cast included an Osprey north over Portland Harbour during the afternoon and a scatter of 10 Black Redstarts, 6 White Wagtails, 6 Ring Ouzels, 2 Firecrests and singes of Water Rail and Merlin. Whilst there was no big arrival of commoner migrants there was still plenty to see, with totals from the Bill area that included 100 Wheatears, 70 each of Robin and Song Thrush, 50 Blackbirds and lesser numbers of a fair variety of other expected fare. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 6 Red-throated Divers and 3 Whimbrel, whilst a Black-throated Diver was a new arrival in Portland Harbour.

27th March

Despite there being the odd flakes of snow in the air both early and late in the day a marked reduction in the strength of the wind made it feel a good deal more pleasant than of late. Bird-wise, events remained relatively low-key, with the only quality provided by the continuing presence of the 2 Little Ringed Plovers at Reap Lane, along with all-island totals of 10 White Wagtails, 6 each of Black Redstart and Ring Ouzel, 2 Bramblings and a 'new' Water Rail. Routine fare included totals of around 250 Wheatears and 100 Chiffchaffs, together with gradually diminishing numbers of the likes of Redwings, Blackcaps and Goldcrests. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 3 Red-throated Divers and 2 Velvet Scoters.



White Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover and Wheatears - Portland Bill, 26th March 2013 © Martin Cade

...the copious quantities of pig manure spread in the Crown Estate Field to fertilize this year's maize/sunflower crop are proving a magnet for a whole host of migrants at the moment

  26th March

As so often happens when a spell of samey conditions gets established the law of dimishing returns begins to kick in, and this was certainly in evidence at the Obs where the daily ringing totals since Saturday have been 65, 51, 27 and, today, 12. That said, there was still more than enough about to make it worth spending time out in the cold and many areas got pretty decent coverage. Among the less regular migrants there were all-island totals of 10 White Wagtails, 9 Black Redstarts, 8 Ring Ouzels, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Woodcocks and singles of Moorhen (briefly at Penn's Weare), Mistle Thrush, Firecrest, Brambling and Lapland Bunting (briefly at the Bill). Wheatear was easily the most conspicuous of the commoner migrants, with more than 200 at the Bill alone, whilst 52 Redwings at Reap Lane/Barleycrates Lane was a notable total amongst the thinner spread of other species. A single Great Northern Diver passing through off the Bill was the only worthwhile report from the sea.








   Little Ringed Plover, Ring Ouzel and Dunlin - Portland Bill, 25th March 2013 © Martin Cade (Little Ringed Plover and Dunlin) and Pete Saunders (Ring Ouzel)

...and, since we're still tinkering around with video, two different perspectives on the Reap Lane Little Ringed Plovers (thanks to Joe Stockwell This is finally Portland Birding! for the first of these):



  25th March

With the weather remaining firmly in a cold, dreary and stiff easterly state it was case of more of the same as in recent days, with incoming migrants dropping in decent quantities. The best of the bunch were 8 each of Ring Ouzel and Black Redstart at the Bill, another Ring Ouzel at Barleycrates Lane and a small arrival of Little Ringed Plovers: 1 briefly at the Bill and later 3 (likely including the Bill bird) on flood water at Reap Lane. Routine migrants were not quite as numerous as at the weekend, but total from the Bill of, for example, 200 Wheatears, 100 Chiffchaffs, 75 Song Thrushes, 50 Robins and 25 Blackcaps indicated that there was still plenty about; less regular fare included 2 White Wagtails, a Merlin, a Dunlin, a Firecrest and a Siskin at the Bill, likely the same Dunlin at Reap Lane and another White Wagtail at Barleycrates Lane, whilst 3 Shovelers, 2 Velvet Scoters and a Red-throated Diver passed through off the Bill and the first Common Tern of the spring was in Portland Harbour.





   Chiffchaff, White-spotted Bluethroat and Kentish Plover - Portland Bill and Ferrybridge, 24th March 2013 © Keith Pritchard Birding Portland UK (Chiffchaff and W-s Bluethroat) and Joe Stockwell This Isn't Portland Birding... (Kentish Plover)

...and a bit of scene-setting video of events at the bluethroat:


    24th March

The quality was coming thick and fast at time today, with the White-spotted Bluethroat still about at the Bill, a Kentish Plover dropping in for a while at Ferrybridge, a Great White Egret arriving in off the sea over Chesil Beach and another hatful of migrants grounded everywhere. The conditions were again pretty grim, with a biting easterly a feature throughout the day, but weren't enough to put off a constant succession of weekends visitors, mainly attracted by the bluethroat; their rewards amongst the scarcer migrants included 23 Black Redstarts, 15 Ring Ouzels, 7 Bramblings, 2 White Wagtails and 2 Firecrests. Notable counts amongst the commoner fare on the ground included 250 Wheatears, 200 Chiffchaffs, 100 Fieldfares, 75 Redwings and 60 Blackcaps, whilst overhead Meadow Pipits continued to dominate, with more than 250 an hour heading north along West Cliffs during the morning. The sea was relatively uneventful, with 2 Shoveler through off the Bill, 2 Slavonian Grebes settled off Chesil and 2 Grey Plovers and a Great Northern Diver passing by there the best of the slim pickings.






 White-spotted Bluethroat - Portland Bill, 23rd March 2013 © Martin Cade

    23rd March

An excellent day when there was plenty to grab the attention in what were less than inviting cold and dreary conditions. The spring's first really decent push of a wide variety of migrants saw plenty on the move overhead and a good scatter on the ground, amongst which the chief prize was a White-spotted Bluethroat that turned up in a mist-net in the Obs garden early in the afternoon and after release showed intermittently beside the Obs Quarry for the rest of the day. With many island areas getting good coverage there were some decent totals of commoner migrants making the log, including 1500 Meadow Pipits, 300 Chiffchafffs, 250 Wood Pigeons, 250 Starlings, 150 Wheatears, 100 Robins, 44 Fieldfares, 40 Redwings, 12 Black Redstarts, 10 Sand Martins, 10 Goldcrests, 8 Swallows, 5 Mistle Thrushes, 5 Blackcaps, 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Sanderling, 2 Ring Ouzels and singles of Lapwing, Golden Plover, House Martin, Firecrest and Siskin. The sea got plenty of attention at the Bill where 137 Common Scoter, 20 Brent Geese, 20 Sandwich Terns, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Whimbrel passed by.



 Grey Heron - Portland Bill, 22nd March 2013 © Martin Cade

...the long-staying Grey Heron is still about and - quite apart from being at times ludicrously approachable - is beginning to be a nuisance: it's taken to lurking around close to one of the bird feeders in the Obs garden where yesterday it was seen to catch and swallow a Dunnock!

    22nd March

Another uniformly foul day - blasting, cold easterlies and frequent spells of rain - but much better for birds than of late. Many of the new arrivals were passing straight through, with a strong passage of Meadow Pipits in particular arriving in off the sea at the Bill tip and carrying straight on northwards along West Cliffs, but grounded migrants were about in numbers, albeit difficult to get to grips with in the lousy conditions. The Bill area got most of the coverage and came up with totals of c1000 Meadow Pipits, 100 Chiffchaffs, 40 Wheatears, 15 Song Thrushes, 3 Fieldfares and singles of Grey Heron, Water Rail, Lapwing, Woodlark, Black Redstart and Blackcap; elsewhere a lone Mistle Thrush was the best of the birds on the move along the cliffs at Reap Lane. For a while the sea looked to have plenty of promise, with 46 Common Scoter, 20 Shoveler, 8 Bar-tailed Godwits, 8 Sandwich Terns and 2 Garganey through in quick time off the Bill, but interest soon fizzled out and 7 passing Brent Geese were the only birds of note later in the day.



A reminder that the next In Focus field event at the Obs takes place between 10am and 4pm tomorrow, Saturday 23rd March. 

  21st March

Can it get any worse? With rain from dawn until dusk there was no worthwhile coverage away from the shelter of the Obs; odds and ends there included the long-staying Grey Heron, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Water Rail and a fly-over Golden Plover.

20th March

The Bill area remained not far short of bereft of migrants, with a fair bit of fieldwork on a pleasantly still and for the most part sunny day coming up with just 6 Chiffchaffs, 5 Redwings, 2 Wheatears and 2 Goldcrests; the Firecrest from a couple days ago also resurfaced, whilst the list there got a further small boost from the likes of 2 Water Rails still about on the land and 14 Common Scoter, 3 Red-throated Divers and 2 Mediterranean Gulls through on the sea. Elsewhere, 5 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Common Scoter and 2 Velvet Scoter were still in Portland Harbour.

19th March

With the quality of birding hovering only a shade above the dismal level there was again extremely little to report from the Bill, where grounded migrants remained at a premium: the likes of Wheatear didn't even make the day list, whilst only Blackbird and Song Thrush reached double figure totals; 5 more passing Red-throated Divers were the only birds of note on the sea. Elsewhere the first Swallow of the spring passed through at Southwell.

The first Red Admiral of the year was on the wing in the Obs garden.

18th March

Bar a succession of light showers soon after dawn the day was unexpectedly fine but, alas, not at all migrant-filled. At the Bill both Firecrest and Redpoll (singles of each) were recorded for the first time this spring, but the migrant tally otherwise consisted of little more than low single figure totals of Song Thrush, Robin, Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, 3 White Wagtails and singles of Redwing, Black Redstart and Reed Bunting on the ground and a light trickle of Meadow Pipits and alba wagtails passing overhead; more of the same elsewhere included 5 more White Wagtails at Barleycrates Lane/Reap Lane. The sea was just as quiet, with 4 Red-throated Divers and a single Sandwich Tern the best of the bunch off the Bill.




 Meadow Pipit and Wheatear - Portland Bill, 17th March 2013 © Pete Saunders (Meadow Pipit) and Tony Hovell The Travelling Naturalist (Wheatear)

    17th March

Another pretty grim morning but much better for birds, in particular Meadow Pipits that were arriving in force from the south: having presumably lifted off in fairer conditions on the other side of the Channel they'd fallen foul of the rain and were struggling in in impressively large numbers along East Cliffs at the Bill before heading away northwards; the morning total at the Bill reached around 5000, with the counts of 2300 over Southwell and 1000 over Weston likely including many of the same birds. In the poor conditions birding on the land was otherwise quite difficult, but at the Bill 75 alba wagtails also arrived in off the sea and 25 Wheatears, 3 Chiffchaffs and singles of Water Rail, Black Redstart, Redwing and Goldcrest were grounded. Seawatching at the Bill came up with little more than 2 passing Red-throated Divers, whilst elsewhere there was a report of 31 Slavonian Grebes and 5 Black-necked Grebes from Portland Harbour.

A dozen or so Bottle-nosed Dolphins were off East Cliffs at the Bill for a good part of the morning.

16th March

The good work of the last few weeks in drying out the sodden ground was well and truly undone overnight when more than an inch of rain fell on the island; the hours of daylight fared little better, with plenty more heavy showers during the afternoon. With birding opportunities rather limited the only reports came from the Bill, where there were 32 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 10 Chiffchaffs, 6 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Black Redstarts and a Wheatear on the land and 4 Red-throated Divers and 2 Sandwich Terns through on the sea.



 Long-eared Owl - Portland Bill, 15th March 2013 © Martin Cade

...highly likely to be the individual originally trapped and ringed back in mid-February; since then there have been occasionally glimpses of an eared owl at dusk and the suspicions are that it's been present throughout and spends the daylight hours roosting out of view in the Obs garden/Hut Fields/Culverwell area.

    15th March

In an increasingly blustery and showery south-westerly most attention at the Bill given to the sea, with 33 Common Scoter and 17 Red-throated Divers providing the numbers and the first Manx Shearwaters (2) and Arctic Skua of the spring providing the quality. On the land a Long-eared Owl was inadvertently flushed from the Hut Fields and later seen briefly on a couple of occasions in the Obs garden, but new migrants there were limited to 3 Redwings, a Wheatear and a Chiffchaff on the ground and 49 Starlings arriving in off the sea from the south.



 Wheatear - Portland Bill, 14th March 2013 © Pete Saunders

    14th March

A sharp overnight frost and another lovely sunny day but much quieter for migrants than was the case yesterday. None of the routine fare managed a double figure total at the Bill, where the best of the bunch were 9 Chiffchaffs, 8 Redwings, 3 Wheatears, 3 Siskins and 2 Black Redstarts, whilst an otherwise samey tally elsewhere included another Siskin north and a Blackcap at Southwell, 2 more Siskins north along West Cliffs and 12 Fieldfares, a grounded Ringed Plover for its second day and a White Wagtail at Reap Lane/Barleycrates Lane. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 5 Red-throated Divers and 2 Pintail, whilst the wintering waterfowl lingered on in Portland Harbour, where there were again 11 Black-necked Grebes, 4 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Common Scoter and 2 Velvet Scoter.

13th March

Despite the temperature at dawn hovering not too far above zero the lack of wind made it feel positively balmy - and, under mainly sunny skies, it remained that way for much of the day. Bird-wise, there was a conspicuous push of early migrants on both land and sea, with the Bill area accruing totals that included 60 Song Thrushes, 50 Redwings, 30 Fieldfares, 30 Chiffchaffs and 15 Wheatears on the ground and 75 Common Scoter, 38 Brent Geese and 8 Red-throated Divers through on the sea, whilst elsewhere there were plenty more thrushes scattered throughout the southern half of the island. Adding variety on the land there were 3 Black Redstarts and singles of Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Siskin and Reed Bunting at the Bill, singles of Ringed Plover and White Wagtail at Reap Lane and singles of White Wagtail and Mistle Thrush at the Windmills. Portland Harbour still held 10 Black-necked Grebes, 9 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Common Scoter, 2 Velvet Scoter and an Eider.




 Grey Heron - Portland Bill, 12th March 2013 © Martin Cade

...the heron has now become sufficiently bold that today it dropped in on the small pond right in front of the Obs patio.

    12th March

Something of nothing today, with a hard overnight frost and continuing bitter north-easterly denting enthusiasm for prolonged fieldwork. Amongst the light scatter of thrushes everywhere a Mistle Thrush at Pennsylvania Castle was of note, but a Golden Plover at the Bill was the only other likely cold weather arrival. Migrants included a handful of Chiffchaffs around the south of the island, together with a lone Wheatear at the Bill and single new Black Redstarts at Easton and the Windmills. Seawatching at the Bill came up with 15 Common Scoter, 2 Wigeon and a single Red-throated Diver.



 Grey Heron - Portland Bill, 10th March 2013

...another camera trap photo: this bird keeps making sporadic visits to the Obs pond but as it's too skittish for us to have got anything other than flight photos of it with the proper camera we set up the camera trap beside the pond and ended up with several photos of it after it triggered the camera during a visit yesterday evening (...perhaps we'll leave the camera in situ through the spring and see if reveals the presence of a Night Heron or something else that drops in when nobody's looking!)

    11th March

Extremely grim conditions again: just as forecast, dawn revealed a light dusting of snow everywhere and it kept sleeting in the wind for much of the day. It was difficult to know whether some of the new arrivals appeared as a result of the snow or were in-bound migrants, but either way the list at the Bill included 30 Skylarks, 5 Redwings, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Grey Heron, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Black-headed Gull and Mistle Thrush, with 5 Pintail also passing by on the sea. Elsewhere a scatter of birds around Southwell included a notable gathering of 35 Stock Doves, along with 350 Starlings, 13 Redwings, 3 Lapwings, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Fieldfare.


Also a notice from the bookshop: 

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If you missed any of the volumes of the recently completed magnificent 16-volume set of The Handbook of the Birds of the World, the bookshop has some back numbers at only £75 each. These are: Vol 2, and Vols 4 to 10 inclusive. In perfect condition and only £75 each! Book quickly with Nick Wright on 01305 459268.



 Shovelers - Ferrybridge, 10th March 2013 © Pete Saunders

    10th March

A mightily unpleasant day of persistent drizzle blown through on a blasting and increasingly bitter north-easterly. That said, there were birds to be seen at the Bill where there was a good bit of visible passage of migrants struggling in off the sea; these included 200 Wood Pigeons, 46 Fieldfares and a steady throughput of Meadow Pipits, alba wagtails and commoner thrushes, whilst elsewhere another 200 Wood Pigeons arrived in/off at Penn's Weare and 3 Shoveler passed over at Ferrybridge. It was hard work on the ground, but interest was provided by 3 White Wagtails at the Windmills, single Mistle Thrushes at the Bill and Easton, a Grey Wagtail at Easton and 10 Chiffchaffs, 2 Wheatears, a Grey Heron and a Black Redstart at the Bill.





Puffin, 'bridled' Guillemot and Wheatear - Portland Bill, 9th March 2013 © Simon Johnson (Puffin and Guillemot) and Martin Cade (Wheatear)

  9th March

After a wet, foggy night when it had sounded like there were plenty of migrants on the move it was slightly disappointing to find that relatively few of them were grounded at dawn, with Blackbirds and Redwings, including 67 of the latter between the Bill and Southwell, making up the bulk of the numbers. A good deal of weekend legwork did eventually come up with a slightly more respectable list that included the first Puffin and Wheatear of the year at the Bill, 3 White Wagtails and 2 Mistle Thrushes also there and a Short-eared Owl at Barleycrates Lane, as well as a very light spread of commoner fare; Meadow Pipits in particular also featured overhead, with well into the low hundreds arriving in off the sea at the Bill. With reduced visibility the only reports from the sea were of 2 Red-throated Divers through off the Bill.



Sparrowhawk - Portland Bill, 8th March 2013 © Martin Cade

  8th March

Still quite foggy at times but a lot less wet than yesterday. Early migrants continue to trickle in, with a notable little drop of wagtails in the morning that included 59 Pieds and a White at the Bill, and another 2 Whites at Watery Lane; grounded Meadow Pipits were conspicuous everywhere, whilst 2 Chiffchaffs, a Redwing and a Goldcrest were also new at the Bill.



Badger - Portland Bill, 6th March 2013

...having seen just recently a lot of peculiar and unfamiliar little diggings appear on the footpaths around the Obs garden we set up a camera trap earlier in the week and the culprit was revealed to be this Badger that's triggered the camera at regular intervals throughout each of the last few nights.

And a couple of photos from Pete Saunders depicting how the local newt population has been taking a bit of a hit; the Grey Heron flying off with a newt is the bird that's been visiting the Obs pond from time to time over the last week, whilst the Song Thrush with a newt was photographed yesterday in Pete's garden at Southwell:



       7th March

A dead loss today in constant rain or drizzle and quite thick fog. The only reports were of 11 Redwings, a White Wagtail and a Black Redstart at the Bill and singles of Lapwing, Redshank and Redwing at Ferrybridge.



   Water Rail - Portland Bill, 6th March 2013 © Martin Cade before, this looks best if you up the Change quality setting to 1080p HD. This individual is most probably the one that's been in the Obs garden all winter although hitherto we've hardly ever actually seen it. Today we unexpectedly flushed it several times during rounds of the mist-nets and it became apparent that it was nipping out of cover every now and then to feed on the edge of the Obs pond; after a tediously long wait we got these few brief clips of it as it dashes back and forth across the one path where there's any visibility.

    6th March

With the promised overnight rain amounting to no more than a few spits and spots there was little hint of the flurry of early migrants that had maybe been expected. Under overcast skies there was another steady arrival of Meadow Pipits and a few Chaffinches arriving in off the sea at the Bill but on the ground 5 Chiffchaffs, 3 White Wagtails and a Redwing were the best of the bunch; another White Wagtail was at the Windmills, whilst 3 Purple Sandpipers, a Water Rail and a Black Redstart were still about at the Bill. Up-Channel passage off the Bill included 9 Teal, 5 Red-throated Divers and a Shelduck.





   Greylag Goose, Mediterranean Gull and Purple Sandpiper - Ferrybridge and Portland Bill, 5th March 2013 © Pete Saunders (Greylag and Med Gull) and Will Bown (Purple Sand)

    5th March

A long overdue fine day of unbroken sunshine and steadily increasing temperature. Not surprisingly given the conditions the usual suspects - particularly Meadow Pipits, alba wagtails and Chaffinches - were arriving in off the sea at the Bill at a pretty steady rate through the morning, whilst further new arrivals there included the 3 Stonechats, 3 Bramblings, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Great Tits and a Siskin; elsewhere there were 2 Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest at Weston, another Chiffchaff at Portland Castle and a Greylag Goose headed west over Ferrybridge. Long-stayers still making the list included 4 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Grey Herons, 2 Black Redstarts and a Knot at the Bill. For the most part it was too hazy to permit any serious seawatching but 2 more Red-throated Divers were noticed passing through off the Bill.





  White Wagtail - Portland Bill, 4th March 2013 © Martin Cade

...and thanks Pete Saunders for a couple more photos from the weekend of the the Black Brant and some of the Mediterranean Gulls at Ferrybridge:



    4th March

Slightly milder than yesterday although still buffetingly windy all day. Early migrants are beginning to arrive regardless of the conditions, with a steady little trickle of Meadow Pipits, alba wagtails and Chaffinches arriving in off the sea at the Bill all morning; among them the first White Wagtail of the spring dropped in during the afternoon, whilst at sea 11 Red-throated Divers and 6 Wigeon headed up-Channel. Routine fare included 3 Black Redstarts and the Grey Heron at the Bill, the 2 Velvet Scoters still in Portland Harbour and the Black Brant still at Ferrybridge.

3rd March

Really not a very nice day in a cold easterly that was gusting up around gale force by the afternoon. New arrivals were limited to a Marsh Harrier over Weston, 2 Siskins at Easton and a Snipe at the Bill, with the rest of the day's tally consisting of the Black Brant at Ferrybridge, 16 Black-necked Grebes, 4 Common Scoter, 2 Velvet Scoter and an Eider in Portland Harbour, a Chiffchaff at Easton, 10 Purple Sandpipers at the Bill and 9 Red-throated Divers through on the sea there.



   Knot - Portland Bill, 2nd March 2013 © Martin Cade with most of our experimental videos, this one isn't much good in the first place but it does look slightly better if you up the Change quality setting to 1080p HD

    2nd March

The rarity of the day was one of the Fleet Black Brants that made its first visit of the year to Ferrybridge. It was otherwise the sea that came up with the only numbers, with 20 Common Scoter, 18 Red-throated Divers and 17 Mediterranean Gulls passing through off the Bill during the morning. Passerine passage was limited to single figure totals of alba wagtails and Meadow Pipits heading north over the Bill, where 3 Black Redstarts, the Grey Heron and the Knot were also still present. Elsewhere the 2 Velvet Scoters and at least 20 Black-necked Grebes were still in Portland Harbour.




   Grey Heron - Portland Bill, 1st March 2013 © Pete Saunders

    1st March

Despite the less than warm conditions and unhelpful north-easterly breeze it was a little bit better on the early arrivals front today, with 10 Meadow Pipits and the first incoming alba wagtail heading north overhead, as well as 2 Lapwings at Barleycrates Lane and singles of Snipe and Redwing at the Bill new in on the ground. Familiar faces still making the list included 10 Purple Sandpipers, a Grey Heron, a Knot and a Black Redstart at the Bill, 9 Red-throated Divers through on the sea there and the 2 Velvet Scoters in Portland Harbour.